Sunday, June 04, 2006

Leaving Home

This weekend is a holiday in Germany - Pentecost, including sunday and monday - and I decided to visit my parents' place. They' re living in a small village in the countryside, a two hours' drive from Frankfurt. It is a very peaceful place in the green, and I really enjoy going there every few weeks or so. At this time of the year, lots of birds are singing all-over in the trees and shrubs, and are feeding their offspring in the many nest boxes my father has put up in the backyard.

Yesterday evening, after arriving and when strolling around in the garden, I was attracted by an especially loud cheeping coming from a nest box in an old cherry tree, just at eye level. This was the home of a family of great tits (Kohlmeise in German, or Parus major), and the youngsters were just about to leave, peeping curiously out of their nest box while waiting for their parents bringing food. I was quite amazed that they were not shy at all, at least against humans, and that I could take photos from a very short distance.

This morning, I wanted to take more pictures, with better light, and I was very lucky: there were two youngsters left in the nest, and they were just about to leave the shelter of their home and to take the step out in the world.

Here it was sitting, the chicken bird, still quite unsure, clamping to a shrub below the nest box, and cheeping for food.

A few minutes later, it was already exploring the lawn nearby.

So, young little bird, good luck to you and your siblings, and beware the cats and magpies...


  1. Too cute!

    I've just shown your pictures to my son, an he loved them (he just love animals of all kinds). I think I'll try to put one or two of these boxes somewhere in my garden. The fauna and flora around where I live is amazing. Before I got my dog (a german shorthaired pointer, ready to hunt anything that moves), a 'tatu'
    attempted to get into our house. We took a picture of it, but it is not saved in my notebook right now.

    Best wishes

  2. Well, perhaps it would not be a good idea after all. My dog would certainly get the small birds if they went to the grass, like the one in some of the pictures...


  3. stefan's parents really live in an absolutely lovely place. and the birds are sooo CUTE :-)

    anyway, one summer there happened to be a bird's nest just below my window at my parents place. after some weeks, the youngsters crying for food drove me nuts. but the worst were the neighbors cats: every time they showed up in the garden, all birds began to scream ALARM ALARM.

    but I enjoy the photos. they are so quiet. best, B.

  4. Dear all,

    its nice to see that you like the pictures... And I have just learned a little more English: I wanted to comment that the young bird is the perfect realization of what we call in German Kindchenschema (Kindchen is a small child - Kind is child, and -chen is the diminutive). It means a scheme of childlike characteristics in a human or an animal, such as a small body size with a too big head, and large eyes. It seems that this was was introduced as a technical term into behavioural science by Konrad Lorenz. He argued that these features trigger in adults the urge to protect and feed. Now, if I trust wikipedia, this technical term is just cuteness, and it seems that it has worked with all of you ;-)...

    The sad thing about the young birds is that they are indeed extremely vulnerable after leaving the nest box. The loud cheeping not only allows their parents to find and feed them, it's of course also a clear indication for all kinds of predators about where to get easy food. In fact, my father has told me that earlier in the morning, he had seen a magpie carrying away one of the older siblings of this little bird. Quite dramatic things can happen in the backyard...

    Anyway, having nest boxes in the garden is always a good idea, especially if you have children.

    Best, Stefan.


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